MSG Entertainment Revenues Soar, Still Way Down From 2019

Madison Square Garden Entertainment’s earnings for the quarter ended June 30 showed the beginning of a long climb out of the pandemic shutdown.

Quarterly revenues for MSGE’s fiscal 2021 fourth quarter totaled $99.8 million, up from $9.0 million in the same period in 2020, according to the company’s earnings report filed Monday (Aug. 23). Adjusted operating loss was $70.0 million, up from a $103.5 million loss a year earlier. (Adjusting the 2020 operating loss removes a one-time impairment to Tao Hospitality of $105.8 million at the pandemic’s onset.)

Investors welcomed the improvement that exceeded the consensus revenue of $71.5 million, according to FactSet (per MarketWatch). Shares of MSGE rose 8.7% to $67.87 on Monday morning, after hitting a 52-week low of $60.26 last Thursday.

Full-year results show a broader effect of the pandemic: for the 12 months ended June 30, total revenues fell 76% from the fiscal year prior, from $762.9 million to $180.4 million. Despite the last quarter’s improvement, the entertainment division’s revenues dropped 86% from $585.2 million to $82.3 million over the same period.

The entertainment division — which houses such venues as Madison Square Garden and Radio City Music Hall — improved its revenues to $31.1 million from $8.6 million, showing the concert business improved but was far from the $174 million it grossed in the fiscal fourth quarter of 2019 before COVID-19. MSGE’s Tao Hospitality Group, a collection of restaurants and entertainment venues, had quarterly revenues of $69.7 million, up from $1.3 million in the prior year period. Tao’s April 27th acquisition of Hakkasan Group accounted for $27.6 million of the group’s revenues.

MSGE’s acquisition of MSG Networks, a regional sports network that broadcasts sports teams in MSG Sports’ portfolio (New York Knicks, New York Rangers, New York Liberty), closed on July 9, 2021, and was not counted in the company’s fiscal fourth quarter financials. MSG Networks had total revenue of $166.1 million in the quarter, up 9% from the prior-year period.

AmericanaFest Requiring Proof of Vaccination or Negative COVID Test for Attendance

AmericanaFest has revealed updated health and safety guidelines for this year’s festival, which is slated for Sept. 22-25 at several venues in Nashville.

According to the new protocols, all festival attendees are required to show proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for entry to any of the festival’s events, including concerts and panels. Proof of full vaccination must show a final dose at least 14 days prior to Sept. 22, while a negative COVID-19 test must be within 72 hours to enter any of the official AmericanaFest-produced events. Masks are encouraged for indoor events, regardless of vaccination status.

“The safety of our community including attendees, artists, speakers, partners, volunteers and staff for AmericanaFest 2021 and the Americana Honors & Awards is our top priority,” the organizers of AmericanaFest said in a statement.

This year, 240 artists are slated to showcase during AmericanaFest, among them Brandy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Lilly Hiatt, Waylon Payne, Allison Russell and more.

The updated protocols come as several Nashville venues have decided to require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test for entry, including the 5 Spot, Exit/In, City Winery Nashville, The Bluebird Café, the Cannery Ballroom, Mercy Lounge and the High Watt.

Billie Eilish Shows Off Short Haircut & Says It’s Exactly ‘Like My Mama’

Billie Eilish’s blond hair just got shorter than ever, and she definitely got it from her mama.

The Happier Than Ever singer took to her Instagram Story on Monday (Aug. 23) to show off her cropped look in the car, while also revealing her inspiration. Eilish posted two black-and-white pictures of her mother Maggie Baird from back in the day, and the resemblance between mother and daughter is uncanny.

Eilish’s latest project Happier Than Ever is currently spending its third week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and it’s leading an all-female top three on the albums chart for the first time in over a decade. The Nos. 2 and 3 spots are occupied by Doja Cat’s Planet Her and Olivia Rodrigo’s Sour, respectively.

Eilish will soon debut her Happier Than Ever: A Love Letter to Los Angeles “cinematic concert experience,” which is due Sept. 3 on Disney+. She’ll perform the album top-to-bottom at the Hollywood Bowl while being accompanied by her brother Finneas on bass guitar and conductor Gustavo Dudamel leading the Los Angeles Philharmonic.

See Eilish’s cropped locks below, or watch her Instagram Story starting here.

R. Kelly Trial: New Witness Testifies About ‘Punishments,’ STD Infection at 17

R. Kelly’s sex trafficking trial – which includes accusations of bribery, kidnapping and forced labor – continued on Monday (Aug. 23) at the Eastern District of New York courthouse in Brooklyn.

Taking the witness stand on Monday was Jane Doe #5, who was involved with the R&B hitmaker for five years. She first met Kelly in 2015 when she was 17 years old, attending one of his shows in Orlando with her parents. A member of his entourage gave her a wristband so she could watch the show from the pit and have access to the backstage meet and greet. “[He sang] a lot of his songs to me and showed me a lot of attention,” she testified. Before she left, she said someone from his entourage gave her a piece of paper that read “Rob” and had a cell phone number on it and told her not to tell anyone about it.

An invite from Kelly to audition for him as a singer followed. She met up with him a few days after the show, initially telling him she was 18 despite being 17. During the “audition,” Jane Doe # 5 says Kelly sexually pursued her, eventually coercing her into receiving oral sex, and promised to “take care of [her] for life.”

After this initial one-on-one, Kelly’s assistant, Cheryl Mack, allegedly booked a number of plane tickets for Jane Doe #5, despite knowing her age, to visit Kelly throughout his tour stops. When they first had sex, it was without protection and the R&B singer did not disclose his STD. She soon began staying at his home in Atlanta, where he continued laying down rules, demanding she get permission from Kelly or an assistant before leaving a room, calling him “daddy,” making her urinate in a cup and directing her on what to wear.

Jane Doe #5 testified he and Kelly had sex almost every day during the summer of 2015, and he made recordings of their sexual encounters “almost immediately.” She described one particular incident to the court that involved Kelly sexually humiliating her in front of his stylist. She first realized she had contracted herpes from him in Connecticut when she was 17; “I couldn’t physically even walk,” she said of the pain. “I felt this man had purposely given me something he knew he had,” she said between tears.

After making her delete her social media accounts, he allegedly presented her with even more rules, which included, “Stop defending myself” and “tell daddy [the defendant] one thing I appreciate about him.” On Sept. 19, 2015, Kelly and Jane Doe #5 received a letter of consent from her mother allowing the 17-year-old to live with Kelly and be home schooled with him in Chicago. This came after the defendant allegedly slapped Jane Doe #5 with an open palm when she revealed her age to him at a park in Chicago.

She testified that the defendant recorded them having sex at various tour stops he had her flown out to, a potential violation of the Mann Act, which makes it a felony to transport “any woman or girl for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose” over state lines. In Oct. 2015, Jane Doe #5 believed she was pregnant. “He wanted me to get an abortion so I would keep my body tight,” she said. “He expressed to me that if I had been any other age, he would’ve wanted to start a family.” (While she did not turn out to be pregnant, Jane Doe #5 did, in fact, become pregnant by the defendant in 2017 and had an abortion, orchestrated by his assistant, under pressure from him.)

While living in a house with several other women also involved in sexual relationships with the defendant, she was introduced to “chastisings”: “He would spank me [if I didn’t follow rules].” In one instance, she bought a clothing item that wasn’t to his size specifications and was left in a room for three-to-four days until she apologized. The door wasn’t locked but she said she feared repercussions, as she had seen him “drag [other live-in women] by their hair,” throw shoes at them and hit them.

She also testified he mentioned his marriage to Aaliyah multiple times. When one of his live-in girlfriends asked why he married the late singer when she was 15, Kelly responded that Aaliyah found out she was pregnant by him, and as a minor, he had to marry her to accompany her to get an abortion.

Jane Doe #5 testified that Kelly had his girlfriends write multiple letters to “exploit us to protect him,” instructing them to write apologies for stealing from him and write about being molested by their family members, all of which was untrue. One of his live-in girlfriends, known as “Juice,” would check the signatures on the letters to make sure they matched the signatures on their government IDs, after which Kelly would give the letters to his attorneys. Jane Doe #5 was also involved in video “punishments,” which included him directing her to describe a false incident of her father molesting her, which she did on camera after he had her in tears from more than a dozen open-handed spankings. He also made her eat feces and pretend to enjoy it as a “punishment”; initially displeased with her on-camera enthusiasm, he asked her to re-shoot it, which she refused.

Jane Doe #5’s testimony follows several days of similar testimonies from other women.

Kelly was arrested more than two years ago and has pleaded not guilty to the charges. If convicted on all counts, he faces 10 years to life in prison.

Reporting by Neena Rouhani.

Here’s How to Snag An Official ‘Carpool Karaoke’ Mic Online

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The Late Late Show’s popular “Carpool Karaoke” segment has been streamed hundreds of millions of times online (the one with Adele has a whopping 241 million views alone!) and now, fans of the James Corden bit — or fans of karaoke in general — can get in on the action with the release of the official Carpool Karaoke Mic ($59, Amazon.

First introduced a few years ago by karaoke brand, Singing Machine, the Carpool Karaoke Mic has been completely re-designed with new features and upgrades. The Carpool Karaoke Mic 2.0 is an updated 2021 version that just came out this summer, and it features wireless Bluetooth compatibility, multiple voice and sound effects, and flashing light effects that sync to your music.

Choose from six voice changing effects, from “robot” to “radio,” and experiment with three different sound effects that you can layer on as well. There’s no need for a separate karaoke machine either – pair the mic via Bluetooth to stream music from your phone or favorite karaoke app, and the backing track will play from the mic’s built-in speaker.

Don’t have access to a karaoke track? A “lead vocal cancellation” feature turns down the main voice in a regular song, so that your voice comes through loud and clear. The included rechargeable battery gets you up to six hours of singing time on a single charge.

While the original Carpool Karaoke Mic was designed for solo performances, the new version lets you pair a second mic for duets. The new mic is a hit with fans too: the Karaoke Mic 2.0 currently has a 4.5-star rating (out of five) from more than 10,000 reviews online.

The new Carpool Karaoke Mic is available in three colors: Black and Gold, White and Gold, and Rose Gold and Black. Get it on Amazon now for $59.

James Corden recently revealed that it may be a while before we see any new episodes of Carpool Karaoke, as producers have yet to find a safe way to do the segment during COVID. While you wait, you can pick up the Carpool Karaoke Mic for a sing-along session at home. This is an officially-licensed product with The Late Late Show and CBS.

20 Questions With Red Velvet: K-Pop Queens Talk Shining Together on ‘Queendom’ Mini Album & More

Red Velvet collect their crowns as K-pop queens on their new mini album Queendom, which the group released last week.

The five-piece female group reigns over six tracks on the new project, which encompasses dance-pop, electronic, R&B and soul and boasts their strength and beauty on the uplifting bubblegum-pop title track as well as their fashion-forward essence on the braggadocious runway anthem “Pose.”

Members Irene, Seulgi, Wendy, Joy and Yeri have sat atop the throne of Billboard’s World Albums chart with four different projects since their Aug. 1, 2014, debut. Last fall, their 2017 project was crowned the top girl group album of all time on a Billboard poll. While the quintet has at times splintered off for their own solo and unit musical projects, Queendom represents their unity at its finest.

To commemorate the release of Queendom, the members of Red Velvet answered Billboard’s 20 Questions about what lessons they want their ReVeluv fandom to take away from their new project, what lessons they’ve learned about being in Red Velvet for the last seven years, what it really means to be a queen, and which other queen they salute.

Check out the Q&A below.

1. What’s the first piece of music that you bought for yourself, and what was the medium?

Seulgi: The first piece of music I purchased was a TVXQ! CD. Since I was very young and of course didn’t have any experience buying a CD from a store, I just grabbed an album that had TVXQ!’s name on it. It turned out to be a different album than what I actually wanted to buy but was so excited to own a copy of their CD. I eventually fell in love with that album too, and listened to it so many times I memorized all the lyrics.

2. Who or what made you realize you could be an artist full-time?

Wendy: My dad had a huge influence on me. He loved music and would listen to a wide variety of genres and artists. Growing up, I was surrounded by music all the time at home whether I was learning instruments or improvising and playing jazz with my dad, so naturally, I was drawn into the musical world at a very young age. He is a big reason why I am very open to different styles of music as well.

3. How did your hometown/city shape who you are?

Yeri: Even if I noticed or not, my “hometown” itself and everything/everyone there had a part in creating the foundation of who I am right now, so I think it’s the core that gives me strength and comfort at the same time. By realizing that, I learned to cherish the people and everything around me and not take their love for granted.

4. What were your childhood dreams?

Joy: Other than pursuing a career in music, I considered becoming a kindergarten teacher because I love children. Being around them gives me so much energy and joy.

5. What was the first concert you saw?

Seulgi: The first concert I ever went to was TVXQ!’s concert in Seoul. It was shortly after I joined the company as a trainee and I remember feeling very excited from the beginning because they were one of my favorite groups when I was young. I remember singing along to all the songs and having a great time. I can still remember that day and the energy that I felt as if it happened yesterday so it must’ve been a very special experience for me. The artist and the fans coming together as one and feeding off each other’s energy is something I will never forget.

6. What’s the last song you listened to?

Irene: “Free Love (Dream Edit)” by HONNE. When I sit back and listen to this song, it makes me fall deep into my emotions.

7. If you could see any artist in concert, dead or alive, who would it be?

Wendy: Beyoncé! It would be an honor to see her performance!

8. What’s at the top of your professional bucket list?

Yeri: Doing what my heart desires in my truest form for a long time. I think this is very inspirational.

9. What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen happen in the crowd at one of your shows?

Joy: On an overseas tour, I was really moved by our international fans who memorized the lyrics in Korean and sang along to all our songs. They even made a special chant for each song. It blew my mind in the best way possible!

10. What do you want fans to take away from your new project Queendom?

Irene: When we’re together, we shine more beautifully so let’s be there for each other forever and always.

11. Which song on Queendom is your personal favorite and why?

Yeri: “Knock On Wood” is one of my favorites! I thought the lyrics about making a wish on a tree were very playful and unique. I also like the kitschiness of this song!

12. What does being a “queen” mean to you?

Joy: Setting your own standard and accomplishing your goals without comparing yourself to other people or their standards.

13. Apart from being in Red Velvet, each of you have kept busy by releasing solo and unit albums, acting in film/TV shows and modeling for various brands. How did branching out from the main group impact your artistry?

Seulgi: While doing solo activities, I was able to discover a new side of myself that I didn’t know about before. I challenged myself to try new experiences and over time, I became more relaxed and my mind felt more at ease. This allowed me to enjoy every moment, which was very refreshing for me. This healthier attitude and mindset also contributed to my ability in coping with various situations without being easily shaken.

14. You recently celebrated your seventh anniversary as a group. What’s been the biggest lesson being part of Red Velvet has taught you?

Wendy: Two big lessons I learned are to make every moment count and to never fail to try more. I always try my best whether I am working with my team members onstage or singing as a solo artist. I am also never afraid of trying different musical styles and expanding my abilities as an artist. I would say these lessons helped us stay strong as a group over the last seven years. Lastly, the biggest lesson I learned through this entire process is that Red Velvet can’t be where we are now without the continuous love and support of our fans, ReVeluv.

15. What’s one piece of advice you would give to your pre-debut self?

Seulgi: The most important thing is to know how to have fun onstage. Stop worrying about what other people think and do what makes you happy!

16. What country or place do you want to perform in most?

Irene: It doesn’t matter where we are as long as we’re with ReVeluvs and having the time of our lives!

17. You’ve all worked in film and television and recently lent your voices to the 2020 animated film Trolls World Tour, alongside Justin Timberlake, Kelly Clarkson, Mary J. Blige and other iconic artists. How did it feel to have your names attached to this all-star project?

Wendy: When I was young, I would watch these great artists perform and dream of becoming a singer one day. Now that I get to work with them as a K-pop star, I am so grateful for the opportunities to collaborate. Dreams come true indeed!

18. What movie, or song, always makes you cry?

Yeri: The movie that makes me cry is My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday. I can’t even count how many times I watched this movie but every time I watch it, it touches me really deeply as if I watched it for the first time. There are no words to express the emotions that this movie captures and the way it makes you feel. Some songs that make me cry are “Places We Won’t Walk” by Bruno Major, “Meet Me in Dreams” by Kwon Jin Ah, “Happy Birthday, Johnny” by St. Vincent and “If the World Was Ending” by JP Saxe and Julia Michaels.

19. What’s one thing that even your most devoted fans don’t know about you?

Joy: I may appear to be happy and outgoing all the time, but I’m actually pretty introverted and reserved. I just try my best to always smile.

20. What does a successful 2022 look like for you?

Irene: I don’t have a set plan yet but meeting our fans in person and performing for them are definitely at the top of my list. In 2022, I want to make more memories with ReVeluvs!

Lil Nas X Merch Is Now Available on Amazon

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Lil Nas X’s “Industry Baby” is still rocking the Billboard Hot 100 top 10, but the singer’s fans have even more to celebrate, with the release of some seriously stylish merch on Amazon.

The star’s official Amazon page is where you’ll find plenty of his music releases, but it also has a number of Montero and “Old Town Road”-themed t-shirts, tank tops and long sleeved shirts available for sale.

Among the best Lil Nas X merch on Amazon is the classic black lighting logo tee ($24.99 on Amazon), which features the singer’s name across the chest in a sleek red font. If you loved Nas’ inferno-encrusted “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” music video, his Amazon merch store offers a t-shirt with a scene from the video, in which Lil Nas X gives the devil a lap dance. Buy it here for $24.99.

If you want to rep an OG hit, Lil Nas X’s Amazon store also has plenty of “Old Town Road” merch, including a raglan baseball tee ($29.99 on Amazon) featuring a photo of two horses running on the front. The shirt comes in men’s and women’s sizes, plus in a number of different colors.

All of the merch on Lil Nas X’s Amazon store is officially licensed. See all the new and “old town” Nas merch here.